My Prayer For Anybody
May 29th, 2010

Everybody has a Jesse story. I got some too. First time I ever saw Jesse Hockett was at the Oval Nationals in Perris. Not the night he won the Oval National, but when he won a Thursday or Friday night main. It was clear he was blistering fast, but it was the donuts at the end that wowed everybody. I had never seen donuts like that! Vicious crazy never ending victory circles on the brink of being out of control. I thought he was going burn a hole in the track. ‘Who the hell is that?’ I remember thinking. “Jesse Hockett” intoned Scott the announcer, “from Warsaw, Missouri.” Nice introduction, the infectious hell raising fun of Jesse.

All Thrill No Fill
Derek Buckley Pays Homage To Jesse Hockett In Turn Two

Ventura was shocked, much like the entire racing nation by the untimely death of Jesse Hockett. Jesse raced at Ventura twice, both times at the year end All Coast Challenge, bringing thrills, interest and some small notoriety to a fledging and grateful Challenge. As sponsor of the race, I was completely floored that a driver of national ranking would make an effort to show at our inaugural event. His second place finish to local Brandon Thomson will provide grist for a lifetime of shoptalk and remember when. It actually generated the current race structure, as I realized that I needed one purse for hard working locals, a second purse for any red-hot nationals that may show up. His controversial loss in the second annual race is still being debated, along with months of reflection on track safety and procedure.

Brandon Thomson Pays Tribute To the Rocket

I don’t think there was a sprint car race in the nation this weekend that wasn’t dedicated to Jesse Hockett. At my local level, the drivers were thinking about Jesse and driving like Jesse. They were hooked up, fast and climbing the walls. Every time Derek Buckley or Brent Camarillo smacked that wall I thought about Jesse. Watching Greg Taylor and his will to win reminded us all. But let me tell you my favorite Jesse memory. It came in defeat rather than victory at that first All Coast Challenge. I was walking through the pits right after the race, in a hurry to nowhere when I passed by the Steve Watts trailer. Steve had brought Jesse to the race and was now breaking down the car. I’m pretty sure Tommy was there also helping Steve. And just as I passed in the dark, I heard Jesse say ever so softly, whispered really, to Steve and Tommy, “I’m sorry, I really tried.” It was such a gentle and heartfelt admission. I kept walking, struck by the humility and sincerity of this hardcore driver expressing second place regret to his friends and pit crew.

Greg Taylor Dedicated Saturday’s Victory To Hockett

I got a prayer for Jesse. I hope you were touched by all the people you touched. I hope you were inspired by all the people you inspired. It was never about the money, people were going to give you all the money. It was never about fame. You were famous from the minute you climbed into a car. It was about destiny, it was about being young, being excellent and being yourself. That’s what everyone loved. That’s what everyone needed. You had a lot to do in a short period of time. I hope you got as much as you gave. That’s my prayer for you, my prayer for anybody.

Mike Truex Catches Jesse Hockett Relaxed In Ventura


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